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                  Strategic risks—thinking about them differently
       N. Allan and J. Davies, Civil Engineering, 159, No. 6, November 2006

Barry Walton

Backtracking from ruinous events, the authors conclude that causes were being
signalled early enough to trigger intervention and treatment. They are probably right.
        However, I wonder if they have sampled widely enough to ensure that those
signals were unique and stuck out from a population of indicators on issues, most of
which were overtaken by events or ebbed away?
        Accepting the caveat that the event might be but a partial cause of the
problem—the case for STRATrisk—the reference to paper shredding no doubt relates
to a recent large collapse. It was probable that what hit the news was a symptom of
risk inherently accepted in excessively protecting clients; it reflected a strategic
position that had created success. Shredding undoubtedly added drama and is of
forensic interest, but it is worth reflecting whether, given the circumstances, the
decision to shred was smarter than not doing so once an investigation became likely.
Given that UK Government departments have taken to shredding following the
Freedom of Information Act, I wonder if the authors also see that as the actions of a
‘troubled company’?

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